Tuesday, August 19, 2008

answering God's call

The summer after my first year of college I drove with my parents out to Lutheran Camp Chrysalis to pick my sister up from the first week of camp. The camp director and I chatted as my parents loaded up her stuff, as he was a counselor when I was a camper, and he mentioned that they were looking for another lifeguard." What are you doing this summer?" he asked on Friday, I faxed in my application on Saturday, and drove out on Sunday for my first of five amazing summers in outdoor ministry!

I have been incredibly blessed to be able to be the Outdoor Ministry Ambassador to Camp Chrysalis this past week. It holds a special place in my heart, and it was great to see all the improvements that have occurred since I was on staff in 2001 and 2002. The new cabins have air conditioning, there's a climbing wall, zip-line, and exciting new programs. Given the glut of superhero and comic-book films this summer, the theme of "Saints and Superheroes" was especially apropos and the youth connected these ideas with their faith lives throughout the week.

Though some things change, there will always be aspects of camp that never change. It's always great to see that the staff is excited and passionate to be working with youth. The middle-schoolers still oscillate between eye-rolling resignation and goofy enthusiasm. Dave the Maintenance Man stills knows absolutely everything about camp, and the Executive Directors Eric and Deanna still love their vocation at Chrysalis. Though this year's staff is still deciding what their major will be in college rather than their vocation later in life, I could see each of them answering God's call by making that week at camp the best possible for each camper.

Outdoor Ministry Ambassador & Seminarian, Rebecca Smith

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lutherdale Reflections

Lutherdale Reflections, Amanda Kimmet

The first week of August I had the pleasure of being the Outdoor Ministry Ambassador from LSTC to Lutherdale Bible Camp near Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I had visited Lutherdale previously when I led a youth group retreat and was very impressed with the facilities, the environment and the staff. With such a positive first experience at Lutherdale I was eagerly looking forward to another and being there in a different ministerial role.
I began the week open to experiences and growth and received a bountiful of experiences, growth, opportunities and blessings. I cannot possibly begin to describe everything I did or learned or experienced during my week at camp so I will try to share a couple of experiences with you and there impact upon myself and others.
This was the last week of summer camp and the week that the inner city youth from Milwaukee visited intermixing with the "normal" camp crowd of neighboring Wisconsin towns. The environment at Lutherdale this week was different than any other week during the summer program due to those two factors and this environment provided me with many excellent pastoral care opportunities.
I spent the majority of my time with two counselors and their cabin groups assisting the camp counselors when and where I could as they dealt with the stress and joys of the culture and language clash of rural and urban youth, white and black, lower class and middle class and male and female. And there were indeed many clashes ignited by homophobic, racist, sexist and derogatory remarks. At times the language and behavior was overwhelming for the counselors and me. At the beginning of the week the clashes were intense and frequent as the week continued and the youth grew to know one another, befriend one another and become comfortable in their village group and with their counselors these clashes lessoned and lessoned.
One evening was particularly memorable to me. We gathered together as community for a cookout meal around the fire. The usual comments were made when the campers were asked to search for kindling for the fire but a new experience occurred. The normal splitting of the cabin group did not appear. They worked together to gather kindling and prepare a meal. The campers who at the beginning of the week were quite anti-camp or anti-community waited patiently for their turns to cook their fudgie pies over the fire and rather than stray from our group stayed by the fire and shared in the communal environment of the cook out. No derogatory comments. No disrespect of others. We were a community gathered together sharing our meal and sharing laughter and joy together. The counselors relaxed and had the joy of joy with their campers rather than having to stress about behavior and respect issues. The evening was peaceful, communal and joyful and God's presence was with us.
These groups of youth coming together as one community and including the counselors and I into it is a powerful message for all of us as we go out into the world feeling that we are called to serve God's people. This was a community formed out of many. This village group was my microcosm of the church. We all come from different environments, traditions, cultures, families and perspectives but we are all united together through God and we are called to be in a community together even when there are conflicts (and there are!) These kids taught me a powerful lesson about the Christian community and what it truly means to gather together for a meal.
My week included many conversations with the camp counselors about vocation, life, past pains and heartaches and community conflicts that I will not and cannot fully describe here but I can say that I am thankful to God for bringing me to Lutherdale for this week because God was working.
I also had many conversations with visiting youth directors and pastors who accompanied their youth groups to camp and with our camp pastor of the week. These conversations I hope were mutually beneficial as ministry ideas, hopes, joys and frustrations were shared. I did not expect to discover my own community of peers at Lutherdale (and two LSTC graduates!)
I needed this week at Lutherdale as much as I feel God needed me to be present there. I hope that through me many seeds were planted or watered just as new seeds, new thoughts for ministry opportunities were planted within me.

Outdoor Ministry Ambassador, Amanda Kimmet